Join us and receive our monthly newsletter –the best of the blogs, discount codes and competitions.
Raising Breast Cancer Awareness
I’m Alex, and I was asked to write this blog post for this wonderful charity, after I emailed to see if there was anything I could do for them. I wanted to feel like I was giving back to the numerous people that make life that little bit easier for people living with cancer. See, having had my Nan and Aunty pass away from cancer, that affected me enough. But when my Mum was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer on the 13th of November, My whole world came crashing down, and I realised then the most how much life can change and become difficult for people who are living with cancer.
For this post, I couldn’t think of anything better to write about other than the relationship between My Mum and myself. See, my Dad has never been around, so from the moment I was born, My Mum took both roles, without question, without hesitancy and most of all, without anger. Due to this, mine and my mum’s relationship now could be that of a pair of sisters, who are best friends more than anything else. I tell my mum my secrets, and something I tell her that sounds dark and gloomy to me, becomes lighter when my Mum is there to advise me and give me strength and support, and make me feel like everything is going to be ok.
Also, we don’t argue. I know. Crazy right? I mean I’m 22, and maybe from the age of 10 when I outgrew the childish tantrums, me and my mum have not argued. I’m not just saying that to sound like we’re perfect. I’m saying it because even if we have a bad word between us, it’s resolved in minutes. An off the mark comment when one of us is being a ‘grumpy bum’ is laughed at in seconds. I guess that’s because we are like best friends. We can sit and have a gossip for hours, we can watch scary films and hide under the duvet, romance films and pretend we are gonna be sick and comedies where we both end up crying with laughter. Not cos the films that funny though, usually cos me and my mum have added something else to it, which will become our own little joke. I can communicate with her with my eyes and facial expressions; something she tells me about all the time because I don’t mean to look completely confused at a joke that should be simple enough to understand, I don’t mean to give evils to someone who’s being horrid to me about others. My face tells how i feel about everything! So I’m sure, on that horrible day in November, my face spoke of heartbreak. Of pure lack of misunderstanding. Of anger. Of sadness.
When my Mums breast surgeon said ‘The biopsy showed that you do have cancer Nikki’ everything froze. Tears streamed from my face, and my life changed. And when he continued to say ‘and unfortunately it is an aggressive type my world crashed down a little bit quicker. Then panic set in, so much so that I had an anxiety attack that the breast cancer nurses had to talk me through. I can’t even tell you what was said in that appointment. After the words ‘aggressive breast cancer’ my mind wasn’t in that clinical consultancy room full of medical staff, it was way beyond that.
Arriving home from the hospital, it was time to tell everyone we were close to the bad news. My grandpa, who lives with us, is my other Rock. He’s holds the other place of my heart, alongside my Mum. Which meant I couldn’t bare to see his face when he was told about Mum, so I decided to go speak to my Aunty and tell her about it. The Aunty that had just lost her Nephew to Sepsis and her Sister to Cervical Cancer (Metastatic to the pelvic tissue, bladder and bowel). And I watched her world crumble all over again. How much more could we take as a family? I myself, have Vascular Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a life threatening genetic condition, that also causes serious issues and dislocating of the joints among other things. This means that 98% of the time, I’m bedbound. For hospital appointments, the other 2% is made up of me being in a wheelchair. So having the constant operations I needed had already been a worry to everyone. But everything just suddenly became worse.
Walking back into our house, my Grandpa greeted me with one of his half smiles, a hug and a reassurance that we would get Mum through this. I sat, I listened to my Grandpa, but in the background I heard the Boots Christmas advert come on. You know, the one where that teenage girl is singing about her Mum? To the tune of Robbie Williams- Angels. That was the instance where I had to make my excuses and go and get changed out of the blue stripy blouse and grey jeans that I’d worn that day. That outfit still lies untouched in the cupboard today, as it has been since it was washed on that day. I can’t look at it because all of the horrible feelings and memories come rushing back as though that blouse hold all of the grief I felt that day. It feels as though it’s sewn in, become part of the fabric and make up of the actual blouse. Sounds silly huh?
I never quite understood when people said they stopped listening during a Cancer diagnosis. I always thought ‘Yes but you have to know the facts, you can’t just not listen’. I now u understand that. Because the facts of it all didn’t matter. Science couldn’t rewire my brain to stop the anxiety I was feeling that I could lose my mum. Facts and figures weren’t going to change the fact my mum has a cancerous monster in her breast. I completely understand you all now when you say time froze. Time froze for a good while for me.
So moving forward, my mum has just bore the brunt of her second round of chemo. She has to have 3 FEC and 3 T treatments all together. 2/6, and although I may seem biased, may I say she absolutely kicked chemos a**! I suppose when you’re entering the unknown, you presume the worst. Oh boy did I. I thought my mum was going to be bound to her bed, vomiting continuously and unable to eat or drink. She surprised me to say the least. She felt nauseous, and felt a little iffy with certain foods. But other than that, she was my Mum. My normal, funny and caring Mum. I suppose the hardest part about the chemo so far is when she lost her hair. Her black, funky spiked hair that was just growing long again after a drastic cut she had last summer to let it grow.
Irony is a funny thing isn’t it. ‘to let it grow’ when a few months after I’d be shaving off her beautifully soft hair that was just past her shoulders. She wanted it done on New Year's eve so that she wouldn’t have to start the New Year with such a hard thing. As I set the chair in the middle of the kitchen, retrieved the hair clippers and scissors, I thought for the 100000th time ‘why is this happening to her’. The woman who has been a carer for the elderly for the years since she was 16, because she always cared about people and put their needs and wants before her own. The one who has tended to me when I’ve been poorly, who’s fought for me during hospital appointments and has been there to hold my hand before operations and there to give me a huge hug after them. While shaving her hair, I cried. My Mum cried. And so did my Grandpa. It was a hard thing to do, but it marked a fresh start for my Mum, so she would be able to go into 2019 ready to continue her battle with this cruel disease. Once the tears had stopped flowing, and I looked at Mum, I just realised how much it suited her. It really did. She looked just as beautiful, her smile that brought the dimples in her cheeks out still as bright as ever. And it was that smile that made New Year’s Eve ‘OK' again. She smiles, I smile.
I’ll stand by my Mum until she beats this. And she will beat this because she’s strong. She’s an inspiration. She’s my best friend. And to quote that Boots Christmas advert- she’s my Mum.
Please, any of you reading this, check for lumps, keep an eye out for anything unusual, my Mum noticed her lump and the cancer was caught quickly because she was checking her breasts, like she always does so routinely. Go for your Mammograms and your smear tests. Go for any test you’re invited to. Don’t feel like you’re wasting Doctors time by going to see them about a lump, bump or a suspicious mole that’s changed or has suddenly appeared. But most of all, please don’t wait until it’s too late for the cancer to be Curable. These things may be embarrassing, unless you’re a nudist you don’t fancy baring your bound or bum to a stranger, but surely your life is far more important than 5 minutes of embarrassment?